Getting To Know Your Compound Microscope

Under Microscope

What is a compound microscope? How is the term related to the inverted microscope? Or perhaps the other configuration, upright microscope.

Yes, you’ve read it right, the compound microscope uses two optical parts. We will discuss each of them below:

  1. The eyepiece – also called the ocular, this is the part where you look through in order to observe the specimen in question. This comes in a cylindrical shape. You may not have known it before but the eyepiece in a compound microscope is actually, a lens. The magnification of oculars could range from 5X and 25X. The typical compound microscope, however, uses 10X.
  2. The objective lenses. These lenses are the ones that are closest to your specimen. Primarily used to collect and/or gather light from the specimen, your objective lenses in your compound microscope come in various magnifications. Objective lenses used in microscopes are termed as “parfocal.” This means that when you change from one lens to another, the focus is still on that same object or sample.

The Power of Two

Indeed, the fact that the compound microscope makes use of the eyepiece and objective lenses makes it a more powerful instrument. In the olden times, as in the era of the Father of Microbiology, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the simple microscope does not use the parts found in modern microscopes. And while Leeuwenhoek’s models can capture an image up to 266X, today’s compound microscope can do a lot more than that. The most powerful microscopes today give you a total magnification of 1000x to 2000x! That is so much more powerful than the simple ones, right?

A small trivia on getting the total magnification. Because the compound microscope makes use of two optical systems, its total magnification is the product of the magnifications of the eyepiece and the objective lens. You can do little adjustments with the eyepiece but with objective lenses, there’s so much that you can do.

In addition, be careful with the task of combining oculars and objective lenses. The combination will determine the quality of your “image.” As a rule of thumb, choose the combination that provides the best correction for various lens aberrations.

Indeed, today, the world has gone a long way. At present, the field of microscopy has changed so much that the once simple microscopes are now being replaced by very sophisticated ones. Once upon a time, a microscope was so small which can do only a limited set of capabilities. Today, you are treated with stereo microscopes, research microscopes, metallurgical microscope and a biological microscope. There’s so much going on about the world of minute organisms that you easily get confused of the terms.

Just remember one thing though: when you talk about the compound microscope, you should remember that it is a modern microscope that makes use of objective lenses and an ocular. The combination of these optical systems makes way for a more powerful look at the micro-world.

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